Sweden break Matildas' hearts in semis

A single Sweden goal early in the second half has ended the Matildas' gold medal hopes in Tokyo.
A single Sweden goal early in the second half has ended the Matildas' gold medal hopes in Tokyo.

The Matildas' dreams of Olympic gold have been dashed in heartbreaking fashion with a 1-0 defeat to Sweden in their semi-final.

Australia controversially had a Sam Kerr goal ruled out in the 42nd minute and copped a cruel sucker punch from Fridolina Rolfo less than a minute into the second half to fall short at International Stadium Yokohama.

They will now face the United States, who lost to Canada 1-0 in the earlier semi-final, in Thursday's bronze medal match - but without star defender Ellie Carpenter, who will be suspended after being sent off in the 95th minute.

"Before the game everyone talked about Sweden being the best team in the tournament, playing fantastic attacking football," coach Tony Gustavsson said, lauding his team's bravery and attacking mindset.

"We showed from the first minute that we wanted to dominate this game, there was no fear whatsoever.

"... I said to (the players) 'I'm very proud about the performance but I'm very disappointed about the result'.

"I also said we have unfinished business - we need to recover and make sure we perform as well in the bronze game coming up."

The game's first defining moment saw Kerr cleverly volley Steph Catley's free kick home at the near post.

But referee Melissa Borjas ruled an offside Emily van Egmond further down the line of players had blocked the run of Swedish defenders, leaving the Matildas up in arms.

Gustavsson said he was "disappointed" to have the goal disallowed and he needed to see the replays to understand the call, while Catley was perplexed.

"I didn't get to speak to the referee. She didn't answer me," Catley said.

"She didn't say why it was disallowed - but maybe some of the other girls were able to speak to her. But it didn't look like anything clear in my opinion."

Sweden then snatched the lead in the most fortuitous of fashions in the 46th minute.

Chloe Logarzo partially blocked Filippa Angeldal's long-range shot but it took a wicked deflection and a backtracking Teagan Micah was only able to tip the awkwardly bouncing ball onto the crossbar.

In the resulting chaos, the ball nicked out for Rolfo to inventively stick out her leg and hack home from close range.

"If they scored a worldie, they'd had a fantastic attack then hats off, but that type of goal hurts," Gustavsson said.

"... It felt like it was against the play - that we were the better team at that point."

From there, the Matildas threw everything at Sweden without reward, while Carpenter received her straight red card in the dying seconds for dragging down Lina Hurtig as the last defender.

Australian Associated Press